Harvard Professor Emeritus
Harvard Professor Emeritus,
thank you for coming to my reading,
though you had so many other attractions to choose from,
upstairs Šalamun was speaking, Pamuk two doors down.
Thank you for coming, although you started to snore
before I started to read, and you woke up again
at the applause. It was wonderful to watch you sinking
into your chair, plunging into the amniotic fluid
of sleep, nourishing yourself on my metaphors
through an invisible umbilicus. Or maybe in the meantime
you were out on a cosmic walk wearing a spacesuit
of Slavonic speech, protecting you from the void.
Or else you had no dreams at all, you were on your usual
self after a stroke, and I was keeping you alive
in a poetic coma. I don’t know, in any case
thank you for coming. What mattered more to me
was your presence than your absence.
(Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)